Erika Peña has always aspired to be a jewelry designer, stating to her mother shortly after graduating high school that she was prepared to move in order to pursue her dream.
At the tender age of 18, the Florida teen the made her way to New York City to attend Parsons School of Design with a full scholarship in tote. Interning for Donna Karen and Josie Natori upon graduation proved to the ambitious 22-year-old that her dreams were undoubtedly in reach. Now, at the age of 36, Peña has successfully launched her own jewelery line which sells in nearly 300 stores worldwide. She has worked with celebrities such as Fergie, Nicole Richie, Evelyn Lozada and most recently Beyoncé, which garnered a swarm of internet buzz once the “Dance For You” star was spotted in Peña’s “Obama” earrings.
Vixen caught up with the Latina designer to chat about B’s first reaction to the earrings, the Romney-Obama election and what’s next on her fashion agenda.–Vicki Valery
VIBE VIXEN: What was the inspiration for the Obama earrings?
Erika Peña: I wanted to make something that was a statement. I like the earrings because you can change the “BAMA” part; you can take it out and put other words. I feel like the Obama Administration represents change, so it was perfect.
Do you have your own pair?
I did, but one of my customers called and was crying. I really wanted her to have one.
What did you think about Beyoncé rocking them?
I love me some Beyoncé! Not just because she’s a superstar, but she just radiates love, power and femininity. If there was anyone that could wear it and be a voice to get these out there, it would be her. She’s empowerment ,and of course she’s stylish. I worked with her on the B’Day album with her stylist Ty Hunter, so I sent them over to him, and she loved them!
How have things changed for you since B was spotted wearing them?
I have a lot more fans. It makes me feel really good! Lots more acknowledgment from people and other celebrities, it has put my name out thereIt’s cool when people write you and they are inspired by you or they are wearing something that makes them feel happy. I feel like I’ve done my job, you know? That’s what fashion is about. I feel like I’m actually doing what I was put on earth to do, and there’s no better reward than that.
How does it feel to know that your earrings assisted in helping with the Obama campaign?
I feel like honored that I am part of this. It’s part of history. People from all over the world have placed orders–Dublin, Scotland, Australia, Japan, Denmark. Whether he wins or not, they still want it. That shows how many supporters Obama truly has!
Have you already voted or will you be voting today?
VIBE VIXEN: Have you already voted or will you be voting today?
Erika Peña: I have voted already in Miami. I’m actually flying out to Spain to see my husband today so that when Obama wins, I can celebrate with my family! Gotta put it out there!
On your site the earrings are no longer available, will they be re-released after election night?
Yes! I have put in a reorder for more because so many people still wanna buy them, just as memorabilia. On Wednesday (Nov. 7), I will put them up for pre-order. Once he wins, I wanted to make different sayings like, “OBAMA 2012,” so if they wanted to change the “BAMA” part, they can. I want to make different plates and stuff like that, but i’m waiting for him to win first so I can make them [laughs].
I did an amazing bow tie collection for men and women which launched last year. It came out in Belgium Vogue, Vogue UK and worldwide, so I will be relaunching that line and sending a couple to Beyoncé and Ty.